My sister will be 60 years old on November 30, 2021. On this same date, she will also die.
She has been approved for MAID (medical assistance in dying), freeing her from 30+ years of pain and body degradation, life and career limitations, and mental/emotional anguish. Being true to who she is, she specifically picked this date to leave.
I support and accept her decision. I understand her processes. I champion her choice to those who disagree. I believe in the right to die, in the time and manner we choose.
In thinking of her upcoming absence, I realize that I love my sister but admit that I don’t like her, much of the time.
From a very young age, we were pitted against each other to compete for attention, love and validation. She was the star hanging above my head, and I was never quite good enough. Her light shone brightly enough to hide me in her shadow. Her talents were groomed and exalted, and mine were ignored. She was my first lesson in feeling “less than”. None of this was her fault, mind you, but it still was my reality.
Over the course of our lifetime together, we have gone for long periods without speaking to each other. We have forced reconnection because, well, we’re sisters. And then it fades again. With her death looming, I have some guilt about that, because it was really easy to let it fade and really difficult to keep that connection. Right now, we’re rather — disconnected.
We’re such different people, she and I. We have different temperaments (me, introverted quiet; her extroverted diva), different lifestyles (me, bacon; her vegan), different looks (little family resemblance) and different values. Our commonalities? We both love to read and write. Music factors heavily into both our existences. We both have cats. We sometimes bought the same shoes. We shared the same parents and siblings.
Without the sister bond, however, I don’t think we’d be friends. I sadly don’t think we really are friends, and that makes me a little ashamed. I’m very good at pushing people away at the best of times, and I should have tried harder to keep her close, to be a better sister.
All else being said, the memories of both very good and very bad times flood over me. We did sister things-hot knives on mum’s stove, singing together in the car, picking the head shots for her c.v., sitting reading on opposite ends of the family couch, being in the waiting room at the hospital while she was in surgery x4, her support during the end of my first marriage.
Moments of pride (her first public billing, and performance, as lead soprano; she made me cry), moments of grief (losing first dad, then mum, then Matt), moments of joy (the birth of my son, as she was birthing co-coach), moments of pain (learning about each of her 3 suicide attempt), moments of truth (her accepting that she was bi-polar). So many more moments come rushing back and through them all, I see my sister a little more clearly. I see times and opportunities that we didn’t take, that maybe would have made us better friends and sisters.
There are some hard conversations I hope we are going to have over the next few weeks; I’m going to try to be a good sister in these talks and let the focus be on what she needs (to say, feel and hear). The most important thing I need to share is that I love her and I’m going to miss her.
Happy Birthday Lu…and good-bye.